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´╗┐Title: Hints on Wolf and Coyote Trapping
Author: Young, Stanley P.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's Note

Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.



HINTS ON

COYOTE AND WOLF

TRAPPING



[Illustration]

[Illustration: LEAFLET NO. 59]



HINTS ON WOLF AND COYOTE TRAPPING

By STANLEY P. YOUNG, _Principal Biologist, in Charge Division
of Predatory-Animal and Rodent Control, Bureau of Biological Survey_

Issued July, 1930


THE RANGE of coyotes and wolves in the United States to-day is confined
mainly to the immense area west of the Mississippi River. Wolves,
however, have been so materially reduced in numbers west of the
one-hundredth meridian that except for those drifting into the United
States from the northern States of Mexico, they are the cause of little
concern. The areas now most heavily infested with wolves are in Alaska,
eastern Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and
Michigan. A few r of these animals are found also in northern Louisiana
and eastward along the Gulf coastal area into Mississippi. Coyotes,
on the other hand, exist in all the Western States, as well as in the
Mid-Western States above listed as inhabited by wolves. They have also
been reported in Orleans County, N. Y., and in southeastern Alabama
where introduced.

[Sidenote: Why Control Is Necessary]

COYOTES AND WOLVES make serious inroads on the stocks of sheep and
lambs, cattle, pigs, and poultry, as well as on the wild game mammals
and the ground-nesting and insectivorous birds of the country. Wherever
these predatory animals occur in large numbers, they are a source of
worry and loss to stockmen, farmers, and sportsmen because of their
destructiveness to wild and domestic animals. The coyote is by far the
most persistent of the predators of the western range country; and
moreover, it is a further menace because it is a carrier of rabies, or
hydrophobia. This disease was prevalent in Nevada, California, Utah,
Idaho, and eastern Oregon in 1916 and 1917, and later in Washington and
in southern Colorado. Since this widespread outbreak, sporadic cases of
rabid coyotes have occurred each year in the Western States. The coyote
has also been found to be a carrier of tularemia, a disease of wild
rabbits and other rodents that is transmissible and sometimes fatal to
human beings.

Much of the country inhabited by coyotes and wolves is purely
agricultural and contains vast grazing areas, and a large percentage of
the food of the animals of those areas consists of the mutton, beef,
game that needs to be conserved. It is a matter of great importance,
therefore, to the Nation's livestock-producing sections, as well as to
the conservationist's plan of game protection or game propagation, that
coyotes and wolves be controlled in areas where they are destructive.
Trapping has been found to be one of the most effective methods of
capturing these animals.

[Sidenote: Strategy Required]

EVERY WILD ANIMAL possesses some form of defense against danger or
harm to itself. With wolves and coyotes this is shown in their acute
sense of smell, alert hearing, and keen eyesight. To trap these animals
successfully, one must work to defeat these highly developed senses
when placing traps, and success in doing so will come only with a
full knowledge of the habits of the two predators and after repeated
experiments with trap sets. Of the two animals, possibly the wolf is
the more difficult to trap. It is cunning, and as it matures from the
yearling stage to the adult its cleverness at times becomes uncanny.
Individual coyotes also possess this trait, particularly old animals
that have been persistently hunted and trapped with crude methods.

The steel trap, in sizes 3 and 4 for coyotes and sizes 4K and 14
for wolves (114 in Alaska), is recommended for capturing these
large predators. Steel traps have been used in this country by many
generations of trappers, and although deemed by many persons to be
inhumane, no better or more practical device has yet been invented to
take their place.

[Sidenote: Scent Posts]

ON THE OPEN RANGE coyotes and wolves have what are commonly referred
to as "scent posts," or places where they come to urinate. The animals
usually establish these posts along their runways on stubble of range
grasses, on bushes, or possibly on some old bleached-out carcasses.
Where ground conditions are right for good tracking, these scent posts
may be detected from the toenail scratches on the ground made by the
animals after they have urinated. This habit of having scent posts and
of scratching is similar to that noted in dogs. As wolves and coyotes
pass over their travel ways, they generally stop at these posts,
invariably voiding fresh urine and occasionally excreta also.

[Sidenote: Where to Set Traps]

FINDING these scent posts is of prime importance, for it is at such
points that traps should be set. If such posts 'can not be found, then
one can be readily established, if the travel way of the coyote or wolf
has been definitely ascertained, by dropping scent of the kind to be
described later on a few clusters of weeds, spears of grass, or stubble
of low brush. The trap should then be set at this point. Any number
of such scent stations can thus be placed along a determined wolf or
coyote travel way.

Time consumed in finding a wolf or coyote scent post is well spent,
for the success of a trap set depends upon its location. Coyotes and
wolves can not be caught unless traps are set and concealed where the
animals will step into them. If traps are placed where the animals are
not accustomed to stop on their travel ways, the chances are that they
will pass them by on the run. Even if a wolf or a coyote should detect
the scent, the fact that it is in an unnatural place may arouse the
suspicion of the animal and cause it to become shy and make a detour.
Often the fresh tracks of shod horses along wolf and coyote runways are
sufficient to cause the predators to leave the trail for some distance.
A lone wolf is much more cautious than a pack of wolves running
together.

Travel ways of coyotes and wolves are confined to open and more or less
broken country. In foraging for food over these runways the animals may
use trails of cattle or sheep, canyons, old wood roads, dry washes, low
saddles on watershed divides, or even highways in thinly settled areas.
Any one of these places, or any combination of them, may be a wolf
or coyote runway. Wolves have been known to cover a circuitous route
of more than a hundred miles in an established runway. It is in such
country that their scent posts should be looked for.

[Illustration: B19741; B24414; B19739

FIGURE 1.--First step in setting traps for wolves and coyotes. The
stubble and woods near the traps are the scent post: A, Trap and stake
in position, and "setting cloth"; B, doable trap set; C, trap set
showing distance from scent post, and stake driven into ground]

Places where carcasses of animals killed by wolves and coyotes or
of animals that have died from natural causes have lain a long time
offer excellent spots for setting traps, for wolves and coyotes often
revisit these carcasses. It is always best to set the traps a few yards
away from the carcasses at weeds, bunches of grass, or low stubble of
bushes. Other good situations are at the intersection of two or more
trails, around old bedding grounds of sheep, and at water holes on the
open range. Ideal places for wolf or coyote traps are points 6 to 8
inches from the bases of low clusters of weeds or grasses along a trail
used as a runway.

[Illustration: B19743; B24415

FIGURE 2.--Burying the traps: A, A shoulder of dirt should be built up
around and under the pan as a foundation for the trap pad, which is
shown in place; B, trap completely bedded, springs and jaws covered,
and pan unobstructed, ready for trap pad to be put in place]

[Sidenote: Setting the Traps]

TRAPS used should be clean, with no foreign odor. In making a set, a
hole the length and width of the trap with jaws open is dug with a
trowel, a sharpened piece of angle iron, or a prospector's pick. While
digging, the trapper stands or kneels on a "setting cloth," about 3
feet square, made of canvas or of a piece of sheep or calf hide. If
canvas is used, the human scent may be removed by previously burying it
in an old manure pile. The livestock scent acquired in this process is
usually strong enough to counteract any scent later adhering to the
setting cloth and likely to arouse suspicion. The dirt removed from the
hole dug to bed the trap is placed on the setting cloth. The trap is
then dropped into the hole and firmly bedded so as to rest perfectly
level.

Instead of using digging tools, some hunters bed the trap where the
ground is loose, as in sandy loam, by holding it at its base and with a
circular motion working it slowly into the ground even with the surface
and then removing the dirt from under the pan before placing the trap
pad to be described later. An important advantage of this method is
that there is less disturbance of the ground around the scent post than
when tools are used, for the secret of setting a trap successfully is
to leave the ground as natural as it was before the trap was concealed.
A double trap set, as shown in Figure 1, B, may be used and is often
preferred to a single set for coyotes.

The trap may be left unanchored or anchored. Either draghooks may be
attached to a chain (preferably 6 feet long) fastened by a swivel to
the trap base or to a spring, and all buried underneath, or a steel
stake pin (fig. 1, A and C) may be used, attached by a swivel to a
6-foot chain fastened to the base or a spring of the trap. If a stake
pin is used, it should be driven full length into the ground near
the right-hand spring of the trap, with the trigger and pan directly
toward the operator. Anchoring the trap is the preferred method,
because animals caught are obtained without loss of time and because
other animals are not driven out of their course by one of their kind
dragging about a dangling, clanking trap, often the case where drag
hooks are used.

The next stage (fig. 2, A and B) is the careful burying of the trap
and building up of a so-called shoulder around and under the pan. This
should be so built that, when it is completed, the shape of the ground
within the jaws of the trap represents an inverted cone, in order to
give a foundation for the pan cover, commonly called the "trap pad."
The trap pad may be made of canvas, of old "slicker cloth," or even of
a piece of ordinary wire fly screen cut into the shape shown in Figure
2, A. The trap pad to be effective must contain no foreign odor that
might arouse the suspicion of wolf or coyote.

In placing the trap pad over the pan and onto the shoulders of the dirt
built up for carrying it, the utmost care must be taken to see that no
rock, pebble, or dirt slips under the pan, which would prevent the trap
from springing. With the trap pad in place (fig. 2, A), the entire trap
is carefully covered with the remaining portion of earth on the setting
cloth (fig. 3, B).

Cover traps at least half an inch deep with dry dust if possible. It is
well to have the covered surface over the trap a little lower than the
surrounding ground, for a wolf or a coyote is then less apt to scratch
and expose the trap without springing it. Furthermore, the animal
will throw more weight on a foot placed in a depression, and thus is
more likely to be caught deeper on the foot and with a firmer grip.
All surplus earth on the setting cloth not needed for covering the
trap should be taken a good distance away and scattered evenly on the
ground.

[Illustration: B19744; B24416; B19745

FIGURE 3.--Completed trap sets, with ground made to blend again with
surroundings. The small stone in the foreground of A and the triangular
stick in B serve to break the natural gait of the animal and cause it
to step directly over it onto the pan of the trap; C, place the scent
on side of brush or weed that is nearest the trap]

A few drops of scent are now applied (fig. 3, C) to the weed, cluster
of grass, or stubble used as the scent post. A scent tested and
successfully used by Government hunters is made as follows:

[Sidenote: Scenting]

PUT INTO a bottle the urine and the gall of a wolf or a coyote,
depending on which is to be trapped, and also the anal glands, which
are situated under the skin on either side of the vent and resemble
small pieces of bluish fat. If these glands can not be readily found,
the whole anal parts may be used. To every 3 ounces of the mixture
add 1 ounce of glycerin, to give it body and to prevent too rapid
evaporation, and 1 grain of corrosive sublimate to keep it from
spoiling.

Let the mixture stand several days, then shake well and scatter a few
drops on weeds or ground 6 or 8 inches from the place where the trap
is set. The farther from the travelway the trap is set, the more scent
will be needed. A little of the scent should be rubbed on the trapper's
gloves and shoe soles to conceal the human odor.

If the animals become "wise" to this kind of scent, an effective fish
scent may be prepared in the following way:

Grind the flesh of sturgeon, eels, trout, suckers, carp, or other
oily variety of fish in a sausage mill, place in strong tin or iron
cans, and leave in a warm place of even temperature to decompose
thoroughly. Provide each can with a small vent to allow the escape of
gas (otherwise there is danger of explosion), but screen the aperture
with a fold of cloth to prevent flies depositing eggs, as the scent
seems to lose much of its quality if many maggots develop. This scent
may be used within 3 days after it is prepared, but it is more lasting
and penetrating after a lapse of 30 days. It is also very attractive to
livestock, and its use on heavily stocked ranges is not recommended, as
cattle are attracted to such scent stations and will spring the traps.

An excellent system for a hunter to follow is to commence with a
quantity of ground fish placed in large iron containers, similar to a
milk can. As the original lot is used on the trap line, it should be
replenished by adding more ground fresh fish. The addition from time to
time of new material seems to improve the quality of the scent mixture.

Where no moisture has fallen, rescenting of scent posts need be done
only every four or five days. In wet weather every third day is good
practice. For dropping the scent it is best to use a 2 to 4 ounce
shaker-corked bottle.

The actual trapping of a wolf or a coyote by the method here described
occurs when the animal comes over its runway and is attracted to the
"post" by the scent that has been dropped. In approaching the spot for
a smell the animal invariably puts a foot on the concealed pan; the
jaws are thus released and the foot is securely held. The place where a
wolf or a coyote has thus been caught affords an excellent location for
a reset after the animal has been removed from the trap. This is due to
the natural scent dropped by the animal while in the trap.

It is advisable always to wear gloves while setting traps and to use
them for no other purpose than for trap setting.


U. S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1930


  For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D. C.
  Price 5 cents





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